HBO’s sixth episode of Winning Time “Beat L.A.” season 1, lays out the groundwork for the Lakers 1984 long-awaited matchup against the Boston Celtics. It all began with the Lakers embarrassing loss in the ‘83 season against the Sixers, where Moses Malone had his way with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
They would not only go down against Philly but be swept in the NBA Finals. Just when you thought the locker-room atmosphere was getting better under Pat Riley’s watch, it took the team no time to be at each other’s throats again.
But losing will do that to a player. Magic Johnson may have been the player everybody looks to, but there remains to be a leadership problem in L.A.
While the Lakers are down and out, Red Auerbach pays Larry Bird a visit in the gym. Bird fine-tuning his skills by listening to Red brag about the Lakers being a one-hit wonder.
But Larry is not so convinced and part of him doesn’t want them to be. He’s not satisfied with any championship win until he takes it from L.A.
Deep in his mind he still remembers Magic beating him out in college and he wants that one-on-one matchup with Johnson to take it all.
Winning Time season 2, episode 6 recap: The road back to the NBA Finals
Blame it on injury, blame it on lack of communication, or not making enough adjustments, but the roster is flawed. West knows he has to make some off-season moves to save this team.
Buss is tired of losing and tells West to do whatever it takes and do it now. Kareem is still ready to move on from L.A.
The Lakers leader wants to return home, but the Knicks are having second thoughts about bringing him on. Kareem lacks personality and he lacks effort in their eyes.
He’s indeed on the verge of breaking the NBA all-time scoring record but he was advised to think about his life after basketball. He knows retirement is on the brink, but he’s not done just yet.
Honey has gotten restless. Running a franchise like the Lakers takes its toll on marriage.
Though it seems Jerry Buss has remained faithful and loyal to her, the Lakers take up much of his time and she becomes jealous of it. I’m not a fan of anything that has to do with Jerry’s love life because we know it never ends well.
These two seemed to have so much growth and ended their relationship in such an immature way. Honey already had one foot out the door when she found out that Jerry was technically still married to his ex-wife JoAnn.
Though, it was just a clerical technicality. He forgot to send the already signed divorce papers in.
For Honey, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and she leaves Buss. I’m sure Jeanie will do a backflip over that.
Winning Time season 2, episode 6 recap: The love saga between Magic and Cookie
The comparisons between Magic and Bird commence and I think Magic wants to beat Bird as much as Bird wants to beat him. But there is a bigger prize Magic wants to win first: Cookie’s heart.
He may not always deserve her love and loyalty, but Cookie has always stuck around supporting him. Even when he didn’t deserve it.
Cookie headed over to a convention in San Diego. Magic wanted her to come and see him as pre-season camp is about to start, and he can’t miss it.
Cookie knows what his priorities are and is not going to be the one to drive up and see him. Surprisingly, just as Cookie is taking in San Diego, Magic appears right on time.
She admits it’s finally over with Virgil and Magic knows he has an opening now.
If you ask me Magic has been wanting to do this for a long time. His journey to becoming a better leader for the team is, in return, making him a better man.
But he’s not going to let her go this time and asks for another chance to do things right. He wants to love her the way she deserves to be loved.
Cookie agrees to give him one last shot at this. She is Magic’s best influence even when they are apart.
In the end, Magic proposes to Cookie. It’s no out-of-this-world romantic proposal but it’s just enough for them.
Magic has come such a long way but it has always been evident these two are soulmates.
Winning Time season 2, episode 6 recap: The stage is set for the greatest rivalry in sports
It’s weeks away from the start of the season and the Lakers have still made no off-season acquisitions. West wants to bring in Byron Scott and Swen Nater for a trade with the Clippers.
One of their big men has to go and it comes down to Wilkes and Nixon. West even takes the input of Magic.
Kareem may be the captain but everyone knows it’s Magic who runs this ship.
Norm Nixon ends up getting traded on his birthday. A big string on his big day, but he understands how the business works and takes the news in stride.
Nixon later goes on to demolish L.A. for the Clippers at the start of the season. A nice little look at the gift you gave away, karma for Jerry West.
The losing streak has started, and Pat Riley is worried. They climbed up the mountain to glory and now they’ve gotten complacent.
As much as Riley guides them they don’t have that fight in them anymore.
Winning Time season 2, episode 6 recap: “This old man ain’t done.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went through a life-altering situation when his house went up in flames. Thankfully, he only lost his jazz collection and some of his basketball history.
Kareem never gave himself time to be shaken up about it and immediately returned to the team. Before getting to the locker room, his fans showed up and brought him a bunch of new albums to replace the ones he lost.
He was immensely touched by their generosity, and it lifted him up at a time when he needed it.
Kareem makes his way to the locker room and addresses the team, giving an inspirational speech in a vital moment which became the turn-around of the season. Winning isn’t just about them, it’s about the city, and the people in it.
He tells them to bring their highest level of excellence. The world has seen them at their weakest.
People want to storm them out, but they aren’t going anywhere. The Lakers captain knows the league is expecting him to untie his laces and call it a great career.
But it’s not over till it’s over. Jabbar goes on to become the king of scoring and breaks the NBA’s all-time scoring record, giving the Lakers the spark they needed to burst into the playoffs and take the Western Conference Championship back.
Boston would go on to win the Eastern Conference and now Magic and Bird get their wish. A head-to-head battle was born, to be crowned the best in the world in the 1984 NBA Championships.
Jerry Buss doesn’t allow the team to do their usual celebration after winning the Western Conference title. They need to stay focused on beating Boston.
He reminded them that they may call it the greatest rivalry in sports but that is not the case when you have an 0-7 record against them. That is domination.
They will never be a dynasty if they don’t take it all back from the Celtics now.
Tune in to HBO next week for a brand-new episode of Winning Time at 9PM ET.